The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has urged private jetties operators as well as oil and gas terminals to grant operational access to the stevedoring contractors, appointed by the Minister of Transport.
The NIMASA Director-General, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said that operational access would enable them carry out stevedoring activities in the assigned operational areas.
He pointed out that the appeal became necessary, given the numerous complaints by stevedores.
Jamoh made the appeal at the 2023 Day of the Dockworkers, with the theme, “Healthy Dockworkers, Better Productivity”, held on Thursday in Lagos.
Jamoh also urged stakeholders to adhere strictly to high safety standards in their operations, to stem the tide of industrial accidents in the ports, jetties and terminals.
“In the same vein, dock labour employers are implored to ensure that the dockworkers are adequately compensated in the event of accident or death in line with the Employee Compensation Act.
“Dockworkers, being adequately remunerated, will go a long way in enhancing productivity in our ports, jetties and terminals,” he said.
The NIMASA boss said that dockworkers, who spent the greater part of their active years in the Dock, had little or nothing to show for at the end of their working years.
He said that as employers of labour, one should endeavour to put in place a contributory Pension scheme for the dockworkers and ensure prompt remittance of both Employers’ and Employees’ contributions at the end of the month.
“As a maritime safety administration, the agency is committed to developing an indigenous maritime capacity through the training and re-training of the dock labour force, to make them more vibrant and amenable to current trends in the Industry,” he said.
Jamoh assured that the agency, under his watch, would strive to create an enabling environment for maritime labour to operate in line with international best practices.
“As the authority for the implementation of International Labour Organisation conventions and regulations, NIMASA will also conduct its maritime-related affairs in the spirit of consultation with all relevant stakeholders, aimed at promoting a decent work agenda and moving the industry forward,” he said.
Dr Adewale Adeyanju, President General, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), noted that the day was expected to X-ray the challenges confronting dockworkers in their daily struggle and efforts toward port efficiency.
He added that this was in the light of the ever improving technological driven economy.
According to Adeyanju, training and career are fundamental and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is essential to protect them against various hazardous working conditions.
“It is instructive to note that the environment we operate poses dangers to our lives. For instance, the quay aprons at Apapa port complex are dilapidated and Tin Can Island Port Complex has collapsed due to long use while Port Harcourt port is aged and decrepit.
“On the Port access road, the gridlock has effect on various aspect of the maritime industry’s activity with wide ranging negative impacts on both vehicular, cargo and human movement within and outside ports.
“On this note, we wish to call on the relevant authorities to expedite action in rehabilitating and finding lasting solution to the bad state of port access roads in all port formations nationwide.
“Special note should be taken of Onne Port access road which is in a state of decay. On the side we wish to remind the federal government on the need to resuscitate the pool system of Tally clerks and on board gang way security men,” he said.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr Victor Ochei, Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabbage, NIMASA, said the event was NIMASA complying with the International Maritime Organisation’s directive on celebrating the dockworkers.
“We appreciate the veterants, those that laid the foundation, your contribution will never be in vain. They have done very well.
“In the administration of Jamoh, we have not seen the kinds of things we see before, not because the dockworkers have stopped agitating, but they do it in an orderly manner, they don’t fight.
“We appreciate Adeyanju for his tenure as the president of the union and his steadfastness and maturity in leading the union. We believe going forward everything will be fulfilling,” he said.
The highlights of the day was the dockworkers parade, tug of war between Tincan and Apapa Port and race competition between terminals.